People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

Christian Bakeries that won't bake Cakes reading, "Support Gay Marriage"

In 2014, Ashers, a bakery run by Christians in Northern Ireland, refused to ice a cake that said Support Gay Marriage.

A picture of Bert and Ernie, the allegedly gay characters from Sesame Street was to be placed on the cake.

The order was placed by Gareth Lee, gay activist. Ashers denied it knew he was gay but it is obvious it would have had a good idea that he was. The cake was to be enjoyed at an event marking the International Day against Homophobia.

The bakery agreed to fulfil the order and then later refused on the grounds that doing so contradicted its Christian belief that same sex marriage is wrong. A bakery run by Christians does amount to a Christian bakery.

Besides Ashers was not asked to make this message its own. It was not asked to judge if this message was ironic, an art statement, joke, personal, political or serious. Its job was to create the cake and not to worry about the intent behind the message. It was printing a message for somebody else not for Ashers but that did not stop it arguing that it has the right to refuse to print such messages for it opposes them on conscience grounds. A message being on the face of it offensive to a religion does not necessarily mean the religion is betraying itself if it prints it. Most religions have scriptures that offend some of its own teachings. Eg Jesus accusing God of abandoning him on the cross.

The bakery stands accused of discriminating against gay people for its refusal. The Equality Commission took it to court for discrimination and won. This decision was correct in the sense that a bakery going that far over something that is good and treating it as the end of the moral world is extremism and extremism can go out of control in seconds. To accuse somebody who does good, something morally neutral or what is reasonably good of grave evil is hate.

Ashers is appealing.

It is saying it did not discriminate against a gay person but against a political message. And Ashers had no way of knowing if political or religious or just non-legal gay marriage was meant.  It is pulling the wool over people's eyes.   It judged Gareth Lee's meaning and punished him accordingly.

 

It is lucky though that this test of the anti-discrimination law is based around a cake. It could have been worse.  What if a Christian hospital would not let a man visit his husband in hospital on the basis that it implies acceptance for gay marriage? 

Ashers decided it would make the cake and entered into verbal contract to do so and then cancelled two days later! It broke its agreement and thus discriminated against the customer. 

Also Ashers does not tell us that if the cake were to read, "I am glad to be gay" and was refused it would be discrimination against the customer. And if it were a gay wedding cake a couple would be discriminated against. Also, Ashers does does not tell us that same sex marriage is not just a political issue - it is principally a rights issue. It is a fundamental human right more important than any religious rights. Ashers appeals to its right of freedom of conscience but it is a business and a business is not a person and does not therefore have a conscience. A business is not a person and though a business may be forced in political matters individuals should not. The rights of freedom of speech and conscience and religion applies to people only not business.

It is said it would be cruel to force Ashers to make the cake but that presumes that supporting same sex marriage can be cruel at least for some. To sympathise is just to enable homophobia.

It is a business's job to be prepared to produce things that it strongly disagrees with. Ashers is a business and not a religion and has no right to try and use religious freedom as an excuse for refusing to print non-violent messages.

What is religious freedom?

Has Ashers been denied freedom of religion? No. It is a company not a religion or a religious order. Freedom of religion as a Church or organised system of worship is not the same subject as freedom for people as religious individuals who form a company or business.

In the states, many argue that the First Amendment gives religious freedom only to organised religions, not to religious individuals. In other words, Americans possess no right to enforce religious rules outside their place of worship. You can bar a gay couple from your temple but not your supermarket.

That Ashers opposes this perfectly reasonable principle speaks volumes.

Public service

Ashers was a bakery run by Christians - it is not a Christian organisation and so it was providing a service to the public. That is the key issue. Does a non-religious entity have the right to impose the religious beliefs of its members on the public?

Those who say yes for the public can always shop elsewhere are missing the point. What about the principle? Principles seem insignificant but abandoning them has devastating consequences. If Ashers is right then there should be no place that would bake a gay cake. Remember people with bad principles always discriminate and make others feel inferior. If your principles are flawed it is going to affect how you see and relate to others. Principles are kept in the heart but they are not private.

Some say if Ashers were refusing to print for a football team who they were strongly opposed do that would be discriminating on the basis of preference not principle. But for many, being for or against gay marriage is just a preference. If it is, then Ashers are only pretending they turned down the cake on a point of principle.

It was not Ashers Message

Everybody knows icing the cake did not imply Ashers really endorsed Gay Marriage.

Everybody knows that Christians who run newspapers publish letters criticising Christianity and Christ that they do not agree with. Publishing does not imply support for those opinions and views. Ashers like the Christians are not putting a message out for themselves but for somebody else. It is not their message.

Ashers knows that not everybody is free to apply individual moral codes for there would soon be chaos.

Despite the lies of Ashers supporters, Ashers was homophobic towards Gareth Lee. It said it would bake the cake and then refused and cited biblical grounds. In other words, it gave the impression it was going to do the right thing and then reneged. Accepting and refusing and then quoting scriptures that savage homosexuals is homophobia. And especially when the message on the cake was totally harmless and not only harmless but loving and respectful.

Ashers does not abhor anti-gay religious violence. If you abhor such violence you will not regard any book that says it is from God that endorses it as good but as a disgrace. The Bible God demanded stoning gay people to death and went as far as to warn his people that he would destroy them should they fail to heed any of his edicts. Christians do not stone but that is not the point. They agree with the murders that took place. So whose message comes first if there has to be a choice? A harmless message asking for people to consider protecting same sex love in marriage? Or one laden with passive aggression and hypocrisy and blood drinking?

The Cake was only asking people to consider supporting Gay Marriage, it was not forcing them.

Tolerance and Conscience

Tolerance is a two-way street - if Ashers wants tolerance it has to be tolerant towards gay causes.

You cannot prove that Ashers really had a conscience problem with the cake - letting them discriminate opens the door to using conscience as an excuse to discriminate. A person saying their conscience condemns something is nothing something for the law to care about - their conscience could in theory say the opposite tomorrow. It opens the door to putting what you say is your conscience on trial - you would need to give a lot of evidence that something really is your view. What if a Christian science teacher refused to teach that life could have evolved without a God? We ignore her conscience claim because the evidence says that evolution could have happened on its own and if God is involved it is not evident.

Ashers need to tell us if it is their theological conscience or moral conscience that is at stake. Are they against gay marriage because the Bible says so and not because they have done research and found out for sure that it is harmful? If religion causes such trouble over morality that is bad enough but bringing theology into it is only worse. The true opponent of discrimination does not encourage anything that is going to encourage it.

It is interesting how most people say that Ashers has the right to its opinion about same sex marriage and that same sex marriage activists have the right to theirs. True but what if one side is right? What if one side is supporting not an opinion but a fact? Do you really have the right to say that somebody has an opinion on x being correct when they might actually know its correct? Automatically calling a fact or knowledge an opinion just puts facts and opinions all on the one level. It is unfair to treat a fact as a mere opinion and insulting. It leads to the tyranny of rubbish opinions and reasonable ones being treated as equal. And this inevitably means treating the holders of them all as if they make sense. Can you really let a history teacher say that God made the world in 1900 and that the records before that were fabricated by Satan and treat that person the same as teacher who teaches the standard history? The world has enough to do without having to treat rubbish opinions as serious contenders for being facts.

Some complain that religious rights were being overridden by gay rights. The same often believe that gay people do not have any right to have their sexuality celebrated in any way. But suppose there was an equal contest between religious and gay rights or they were near enough to equal. What can you do but maybe toss a coin? That Christians would not want that says it all!

The g Word

Ashers had a problem too with the word gay on the cake. Christian belief is that a homosexual does not have a gay life for it will lead only to unhappiness in the next life if not in this one.

Political?

And people need to stop saying that the statement on the cake was a political statement. Support Gay Marriage does not clarify if it means civil marriage. We know there are other kinds of marriage not just civil marriage. For example, the Catholic Church can annul a marriage recognised by the state and let the couple marry new spouses whose weddings are null and void in the sight of the state.

It was about trying to make Lee feel like dirt

The McArthurs got the order for the Support Gay Marriage cake with Bert and Ernie from Gareth Lee and refused him in such a way that he felt like a lesser person. He said that.
 
Now for all they knew the cake could have been meant to give to somebody at a party as a wind-up. It was not their business to decide if the message was serious or not. If the cake was a joke and they knew that they would have had no problem baking it. They were homophobic for they hated the message so much that they would have hated it even if it were in jest.

Gareth Lee was a regular in their premises. They must have known or had a good idea that he was gay. He would have been taking the boyfriend there or gay friends. The cake confirmed their suspicions and they declined his order. Do not forget they broke their contract with him. They agreed to do the cake and then declined. That made him feel that his custom was being insulted and he was right. What they knew or did not know was not provable so it did not come up in court.

And as for their deeply held belief that gay marriage is wrong the fact remains that if their belief runs too deep it amounts to bigotry. And such bigotry is definitely against persons not ideas.

As for their attempt to get away with it by pretending their faith is so important to them, that is a further ongoing attack on Mr Lee. And how can you be sure that a person really believes what they say and think they believe? Is it the law's place to take them at their word? Would they respect Mr Lee if he said he was getting apparitions and was told that the cake was part of God's unusual and mysterious plan to save the world from a Satanic attack?

Ashers already bakes cakes it disagrees strongly with

Ashers should bake items with non-violent messages period.

 

I'm sure they have no problem in conscience with giving a type one diabetic a cake! Bigots.

It is odd when Ashers bakes first communion cakes though it sees Catholic communion as an unbiblical counterfeit for receiving Jesus and idolatrously more interested in uniting with Jesus' flesh than in becoming him spiritually and does not bake cakes for gay marriage. What if the cake was for Mormons and read, "God is not a spirit but a man of flesh and bone" You can be sure it will bake it.

The cake did not endorse anything harmful but something many people experience as good - same sex marriage. It is not the same thing if somebody comes in wanting a cake saying, "Support the Racist Party". We must remember that Ashers want the right to condemn something good. Their sympathisers may not admit it but they feel Ashers should be allowed to discriminate against gay people and they reason they feel it is because they are not convinced that gay people are really capable of being good or married.

The difference between a cake saying, "Migrants Out" and "Support Gay Marriage" is that the first opposes fundamental human rights and the second endorses a fundamental human right. The slippery slope fear is scaremongering.

Where is the line to be drawn if we agree with Ashers that one is as bad as the other? Would Ashers have the right to refuse to bake communion bread for Catholics in view of the fact that the Catholics will worship this bread as Jesus himself? The Bible ban on idolatry is very stern. Ashers knows by now that it is in the wrong and it still keeps trying to get the right to discriminate. While worrying about a slippery slope it is not afraid to put the nation on a slippery slope.

A troll commented on an article opposing the bakery's action as follows "What the bigots posting here failed to have noticed is it is the message that the customer wanted on the cake that the bakery objected to not Mr Lee." According to her, the bakers were not discriminating against anyone. They were merely asserting the right to refuse to make a cake that contradicted their conscience.

Even if she were right, the fact remains that the bakery has no problem approving and supporting a hypocritical religious and political system that tells lawyers who know they are defending evil monsters and trying to get them off the hook to condone the evil and tell themselves that the monsters are good people. After all, a good lawyer has to believe his or her own lies to be convincing and to convince others. Christianity does not really believe in freedom of conscience and virtue except when it suits its prejudices.

The fact remains also that Mr Lee was discriminated against in the sense that his right to marriage was being insulted. It might be a bit indirect but it is still discrimination.

Some say you could not expect Ashers to fill an order to bake a cake with a pornographic picture on it. But to compare a loving message of support for same sex marriage to pornography is distasteful.

Disclaimer

Also, Ashers did discriminate because they could have printed and displayed a disclaimer and didn't. The disclaimer could read, "If we make a cake with a message, we do not imply that we agree with the message." Instead, they refused to bake the gay cake despite the fact that they must have used suppliers whose policies and business ethics they didn't agree with. The disclaimer is already there but is just not on paper. But if Ashers wanted to respect their own beliefs, they needed to be very clear on the need to divorce themselves from any cake that endorses and urges people to support same sex marriage. They needed to find a way to bake the cake and be true to their beliefs. They needed a clear disclaimer - simple.

There is still no disclaimer so how can they say they respect gay people? No disclaimer means you will make any cake and even now they will not bake any gay cakes.

Conclusion

Ashers is a bigoted business and is a reflection of Christian bigotry and its polite ill-will. It is guilty of discrimination. And it is a worry that it has a wide level of support for its bigotry and its lies.

APPENDIX - WHAT I POSTED TO THE EQUALITY COMMISSION

It is not true that baking the cake contradicted Christian beliefs. The bakery is just trying to get its bigotry condoned by the law. Surely these Christians believe in the right of separation of Church and state? Same sex marriage is about civil marriage. A Christian who believes same sex marriage is wrong can still agree with the right of the state to allow it.

The Church is lying when it says it defines marriage as a lifelong loving union involving sex between a man and a woman. The Church never had a problem with believing in Mary and Joseph being truly married though they never had sex though able. The Church marries couples on their deathbeds knowing that they will never have sex despite claiming that marriage and sex are inseparable. Traditionally, a marriage is only made a proper marriage when body fits body during sex. The Church says so but applies the principle inconsistently. The Church facilitates a huge number of those "marriages". The Church cannot say it wants to protect marriage when it does this particularly when the number of same sex marriages will be smaller than the sexless so-called marriages the Church allows and creates.

Condoning same sex marriage is not the same thing as condoning gay sex as some married couples never have sex. Even if you frown upon gay sex it does not mean you must condemn gay love and why can't the Christian or Catholic endorse sexless gay marriages?

The bakery was providing a secular service not a religious one. If it were a business that publishes fundamentalist Christian books, then it would be fair for it to refuse to print anything that advocated gay marriage but only if a disclaimer would be insufficient. Its secularism is a kind of verbal contract with the public.

The Christian claims to believe in the right to debate - the cake is not commanding people to support gay marriage or telling them what to think. It is asking people to think about it and consider supporting it but only if they think they should. In other words, if they think about it and decide it really is wrong then fine. Asking people to think about gay marriage in the hope that they will approve, contradicts nobody's belief except those who do not really believe in the right of free expression. People who are for same sex marriage and those who oppose it both have to ask people to think about whether they support it or not.

If the cake had magic power to compel people to support gay marriage the bakery would have a problem then. Or if there was some demon who could use the cake to exert a magical or occult influence over people to make them favour same sex marriage. The bakery certainly might think that there is such a power and that it comes from Satan. Satan supposedly is very powerful in the realm of temptation. Such a belief cannot be kept private. Nobody can be expected to collaborate with what they think may be down to a demon or evil spirit. Nobody would. If Ashers gets the right to refuse to bake same sex marriage cakes then the door is opened to people who say that such cakes invite evil influences from Satan. The principle that nobody must believe anything that may or will lead them to hurt others is violated. Belief in demons and temptation does harm if it is wrong. Without proof we cannot be expected to believe - not when other people may be affected.

It is interesting that Christians in secular nations managed to argue that having the crucifix plainly displayed in state schools did not violate the separation of Church and state as the crucifix was there for historical reasons and not to promote religious faith. If the crucifix was not a violation of the principles of secularism then the gay cake is not a violation of Christianity.

And we all have beliefs that we have to compromise. You may believe that your boss is a loon but that does not mean you have the right to ignore him all the time. Christians grow up! Same sex marriage even if wrong is not bad enough to warrant the Christians getting the legal right to refuse to acknowledge or respect it.

If the bakery were asked to make a cake that calls for rape or murder, it would have the right to refuse. But same sex marriage kills nobody and damages nobody and it is not the same thing. Conscience is no excuse. What about queerspace who wanted the cake baked? What about their conscience? If they want to protect same sex love with marriage and safeguard same sex relationships, surely their intentions are far better than those who want to stop these protections?

Those who say Ashers is condemning not gay people but gay sexual acts need to remember that condemning what a person does risks putting that person at the mercy of those who condemn the person because of the "bad" things they do. Most people especially when they regard something as seriously bad such as gay sex (remember the Bible God says it is detestable morally and the perpetrators need to be cruelly destroyed) do not and often cannot make the distinction. If we lived in a world where only a few Christians make the distinction then condemning gay sex would lead to people hating and attacking gay people. Think of the principle.

We have to bear in mind that Christians teach that their doctrines on morality are statements of fact. They say that deep down the homosexual knows gay sex is wrong. They say that God tells them that he wrote the law in everybody's heart. This dangerous doctrine implies that the conscience of the Christian or those who agree with Christian morality must come first for any conscience saying different is deluded. The Christian is subtly bringing in the principle that facts override opinions and nobody has the right to their facts for facts are facts no matter what you think of them. Turning opinions into facts is taking advantage of the forceful nature of facts.

We must be careful to distinguish ethical beliefs and religious beliefs. This can be difficult as there are often overlaps. Ethical beliefs no doubt come first. It is more important say for people of religion and none to agree that murder is wrong (ethical) than it is for them to agree that Jesus is God (religious). But if the law is to respect conscience, it should prioritise ethical beliefs and not religious beliefs. The ethical person does not upset or endanger others. The religious person might attack other religions by calling them hypocrites or whitened sepulchres and throw the money collectors out of their temples. The religious person might want a birthday cake worded, "The World is going to end soon. Enjoy your last ever birthday." It is dangerous to give special treatment to religious beliefs as new forms of religion, many of which are harmful or eccentric, are appearing. Whatever legal advantages are given to Christians will be demanded by them too and they are just as much entitled to those advantages as mainstream faiths are.

You can safely assume people have certain beliefs about ethics. But you never know if they really believe in God or the Bible. They may say they do but there are advantages for them in doing so. The law cannot know if they believe. So ethical rights trump religious rights.

The bakery might say it is forced to renounce its beliefs. No. It is forced to obey the law. The law cannot make anybody sincerely renounce their beliefs. If those who run Ashers were philosophy teachers, they would have to mark and give good marks where justified to an essay that attacks their Christian faith. You keep your feelings and beliefs out of the job.

The law's job is to facilitate marriage - not to check if the couple really intend to marry or if they can marry. Thus the state should permit same sex marriage.

The main thing about conscience is that it should be about obeying the law of the land for the common good. For example, if the law commands registrars to perform same sex marriages - even if they think it is wrong - then the registrars should obey. Conscience cannot be an excuse for disobedience. Obeying the law takes precedence over any other moral difficulties the person may have with obeying the law. We all have to compromise our consciences and the law. For example, you pay your taxes though they might be used to wage an unfair war. We all compromise so why can't registrars and doctors who are anti-abortion? The law has the right to make registrars and doctors do things they claim are wrong - period!

I believe Christians condemning gay and lesbian activities as a grave sin are insulting the love exhibited by same sex couples living together. They don't want it protected by marriage law. I don't know why we are so tolerant of such condemnations. In some ways, condemning love is worse than condemning skin colour. That is the reason after all racism is so bad - it lacks love.

Should the Christian car salesperson refuse to sell a car to a same sex couple because they are going to use it to drive to the wedding? What about airlines, should they refuse to sell tickets to same sex couples going on a honeymoon? Should banks refuse their money because it's used to support their marriage? The notion that the bakery has the right to refuse making cakes promoting same sex marriage and same sex wedding cakes establishes an ethic that gets out of control rather quickly and easily. I do not doubt that the bigoted anti-idolatry Jesus would side with the bakery. When he was a carpenter, he surely thought he had the right to refuse to carve a wooden image for people who wanted to worship it instead of God.

It is said that if Ashers is found guilty of discrimination for refusing to ice the cake with the message there will be an avalanche of cases regarding discrimination and which will force people to violate their conscience. In brief, every one of them can be avoided with a disclaimer.

+Should a Muslim printer be taken to court for declining to print cartoons of the Muslim Prophet, Muhammad, when his religion forbids such depictions?

Well printing cartoons is not essential to anybody's well-being while same sex marriage is. The person who won't print the cartoons is not as bad as the person who won't print anything endorsing gay rights.

Do out the disclaimer and print the cartoons man! If you go to court it is because you will not use a disclaimer and it is not because you religious beliefs are on trial.

+Should an atheist web designer who is asked by Christians to create a website promoting the notion that the Bible is correct in science and so God made the world a few thousand years ago be allowed to decline?

Yes because atheists need to be challenged so that they can improve the case against religion. The atheist should be confident enough to publish the website without fear. He knows the truth will out anyway. And he knows that the website will actually put many off religion.

+Must Christian film companies be compelled to produce erotic films?

No - it is up to each company what kind of films they want to make.

+Should a printing company run by Catholics be allowed to refuse to print leaflets promoting abortion?

No. The leaflets are only putting forward a point of view that the reader is free to accept or reject. It is not the printer's responsibility if readers have an abortion after having received the leaflet. It is the readers responsibility to check out what the leaflet says. The company serves the public not the Catholic public.

A Catholic printing company exists for promoting Church teaching and must not be forced.

+Should a Catholic be forced to allow a reception for a same sex marriage in her hotel?

Yes - even if she thinks that it is impossible to be truthful and say it is a marriage it does not follow that allowing the reception is inconsistent with this. The reception is not the wedding. If same sex marriage is a lie it is not a big enough evil to warrant refusing to host the reception.

A lawyer has to defend a person who he knows is guilty. Even though ethics matters more than religion, the lawyer must still defend this person though he feels it is wrong. Ethical beliefs are to be taken far more seriously than religious beliefs but nevertheless even respect for ethical obligations as with the lawyer is not absolute.

If Ashers wins, then a postman who claims to be say Mormon can refuse to deliver a religious magazine to a Muslim on the grounds that helping another religion to teach error is a sin. The postman has to deliver the magazine because he has a functional relationship, not a religious relationship, with the Muslim.

It is interesting that Christians want conscience clauses to protect their opposition to some things and not others though they are against their religion too. For example, Catholic photographers will take photos at weddings of divorcees though divorce is said to be a sin and they expect the law to protect their refusal to do the same for a gay couple's wedding. Muslim taxi men will drive you to work in the pork factory but not to the strip club. A Christian counsellor who regards atheism as the worst evil imaginable will not look for the right to refuse to help an atheist client.

The Bible if people would read it is clear that it contains revelations in God’s own words that demand that adulteresses and children be stoned to death. Jesus preached hellfire without any regard for how that would effect sensitive scrupulous souls. I find the Bible offensive. Ashers would have no problem if I refused to print it on that basis and was forced to. It would not give me the right to stand up and object in Church to such a blasphemy against human dignity smeared in blood and innocent blood being honoured as the only infallible and good book.

It seems safe to think that if the Equality Commission wins there will be more cases but not an avalanche.

It is clear that all the problems are caused by people of faith in religion. Even if religion should be respectfully given exemptions that allow it to discriminate against people, it does not follow that religion should exist. Better get out of it folks and let it die out. Problem solved! Something has to be forced on everybody. If it is not religion it is going to be secularism. The good thing about secularism is that it minimises the forcing or should do. There is enough to force over without religion contributing. If religion gets the right to force it will soon look for this right in nearly everything.

The secular state cannot allow a religious person to argue that they must discriminate against another for their conscience says they must. That would drag the state into the area of judging if the religious person is sincere. To judge that, you have to judge if a sane person would believe what the person claims to believe. That means examining if the belief could be true and if there is good evidence in its favour. It would destroy religious freedom and cripple the nation in court-cases because there are many different faiths all disagreeing with one another. It destroys the secular principle that people of religious belief or who say they believe (even if they don't) should not get special treatment under the law. It is clearly unfair for one person to suffer just because another claims to believe something.

The Equality Commission is right to oppose the bakery's refusal to bake the gay marriage cake.